The Northern Sierra Partnership (NSP) is a collaborative initiative to conserve, restore, and enhance the magnificent natural landscape of the northern Sierra Nevada, and build the foundation for sustainable rural prosperity.

We work with private landowners, public agencies, nonprofit groups, and local communities to:

Conserve the sweeping natural landscapes that define our region; Expand opportunities to enjoy our region’s extraordinary natural assets through recreation, sustainable tourism, and environmental education;
Restore the ecological vitality of our forests, meadows and rivers, and the landscape’s resilience to natural disturbances like fire and flood; Support the growth of vibrant rural communities that sustain—and are sustained by—the healthy natural landscapes that surround them.

NSP is a partnership of five organizations: the Feather River Land Trust, the Sierra Business Council, The Nature Conservancy, the Truckee Donner Land Trust, and the Trust for Public Land. Community Initiatives—a non-profit 501c(3) organization—serves as our fiscal sponsor. All donations to NSP are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Why the northern Sierra?

Many Americans think the Sierra Nevada is already protected in an unbroken sweep of public land. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Although the southern and central Sierra are largely conserved in a series of contiguous national parks, national forests and wilderness areas, that protection starts to peter out north of Carson Pass. Only 50% of the land over 3,000 feet in the northern Sierra is protected as part of the public domain, compared to 90% of the land over 3,000 feet in the rest of the Sierra.

What explains the difference? The northern Sierra was the first stop for many emigrants coming west to start a new life in California. Settlers started claiming land in the northern Sierra at the time of the Gold Rush. After the Civil War, Congress accelerated land privatization by making large land grants to the Transcontinental Railroad. The specifics are staggering: Congress gave the railroad every other square mile of land for twenty miles on either side of the tracks over Donner Summit. This created a checkerboard pattern of public-private ownership that has been problematic for land managers ever since. As late as the 1970s, the Sierra checkerboard was so intact one could play chess on a map of the Tahoe National Forest!

Why we formed this partnership

NSP’s five partners have been working in the region for more than two decades, helping to conserve over 102,000 acres for the public’s benefit since 1990. In 2007, our five partners decided to join forces to launch the Northern Sierra Partnership. Looking west to the Sacramento Valley and east to the Truckee Meadows, we realized that the window for protecting the large landscapes of the northern Sierra was closing. With development pressure rising and more land coming onto the market than ever before, we needed a new strategy to accelerate conservation in the region. By linking arms and working more closely together, we hoped to increase public awareness of the threats to the Sierra and attract new allies and resources to our campaign.

The intervening years have demonstrated the wisdom of that decision. NSP has fulfilled its mission well as the booster rocket for conservation in the northern Sierra. Members of the public heard our story and joined our campaign. People who were already supporting our work gave more. And those new private dollars helped to leverage new public funding. For every private dollar we’ve raised, we’ve raised two dollars from public agencies.

In 2013, Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society profiled NSP as an exciting example of a “collective impact” initiative. Working together, our partners operate at a scale not possible for individual organizations and the results speak for themselves. Our conservation successes are numerous: Waddle Ranch and Summit Canyon (Greater Truckee Landscape), Independence Lake and Perazzo Meadows (Little Truckee River Watershed), the Balderston Ranch and Maddalena Property (Sierra Valley), Heart K Ranch (Genesee Valley), and the Pearce Ranch (Indian Valley), among others.

Looking forward, NSP has a clearly laid out plan to conserve and steward additional land in six priority landscapes and invest in four strategic initiatives to enhance the condition of natural systems and communities in the northern Sierra Nevada. From the historic landscapes of Donner Lake and Webber Lake, to working family ranches in the Sierra Valley and Indian Valley, our Partnership is working to protect the very best of the northern Sierra Nevada for all of us.

For more information, you can download our brochure.

We would like to thank the following foundations and agencies for their generous financial support:

David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Morgan Family Foundation
Resources Legacy Fund
NV Energy
Flora Family Foundation
Western States Trail-Endurance Run
Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund

California Wildlife Fund
James and Susan McClatchy Fund
of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation
Moore Family Foundation
Patterson Family Foundation
Ayco Charitable Foundation
Marisla Foundation
The Conn Family Fund
Serene Lakes Donner Summit Conservation Association
Giles w. and Elise G. Meade Foundation
San Fransisco Foundation
Serene Lakes Property Owners Association
Louis & Gladyce Foster Family Foundation
Joseph and Vera Long Foundation
Schwab Charitable Fund
Pacific Gas & Electric
Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
Together Green
Martis Fund
Mellam Family Foundation
Truckee River Fund
of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada
The Swig Foundation
Bretzlaff Foundation
Landreth Family Foundation

Hayward Family Foundation
Hellman Foundation
JEH-VSH Limited Partnership 2
Elizabeth R. and William J. Patterson Foundation
Hall Family Trust
National Forest Foundation
Fairweather Foundation
Bella Vista Foundation
The Simons Foundation

George & Audrey Rasmussen Familiy Foundation
S.L. Gimbel Foundation
The Seelenfreund Family Fund
Five Star Restoration
Dean Witter Foundation
REI Recreational Equipment, Inc.
Goldman Sachs Philanthropy
Stewardship Council
Firedoll Foundation
Nightingale Family Foundation
The Robert and Lois C. Braddock Charitable Foundation
Bamholt Family Foundation
The Sacramento Regional Community Foundation
Sage Foundation
Trout Unlimited
Chrysopolae Foundation
Tides Foundation
Silver Stage Center
Mary A. Crocker Trust
Hays McLellan Fund
The Martin Family Foundation
Marin Community Foundation
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
Coleman Family Trust

Butler Koshland Fellowships
Bureau of Reclamation
California Department of Parks and Recreation
California Department of Transportation
California Department of Water Resources
California Natural Resources Agency
California Wildlife Conservation Board
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
National Park Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Sierra Nevada Conservancy
U.S. Forest Service

We would also like to express our deep appreciation to the hundreds of individual donors who fund our work.  Without you, none of this would be possible.